“because clearly their capability is growing.”

The Irish Minister for Justice, Dermot Ahern, has been speaking to RTÉ about the threat from still-violent republican groups. The Irish Times has some of the quotes.

“There seems to be an effort in recent months to bring them closer together,” Mr Ahern said yesterday of the Real IRA and Continuity IRA. “There seems to be cross-fertilisation; it may be more to do with acquaintances or family membership than ideology. But nonetheless it is a more worrying trend because clearly their capability is growing.” While the two main groups were co-operating it also appeared a wider dissident coalition was emerging. This included a number of small splinter groups and a handful of republicans who had up until recently been committed to the political process.

Mr Ahern said the Real IRA and Continuity IRA both have “significant pockets” of membership in the Republic. However, the terrorist attacks witnessed in the North in recent months appeared to have been organised there. “The threat here I believe on this island is as dangerous as it was at any time during the Troubles,” said Mr Ahern

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  • FitzjamesHorse

    Certainly there is a dissident coalition…talked up by journalists and parties hostile to SF-IRA. Thats hardly news.
    Recent attacks were certainly or seemingly organised in South Derry. Thats hardly news either.
    But attacks on Newry, Keady and the Fermanagh border were clearly organised in the Republic by people with no stake in the future here in the North.

    There are parallels with the disaterous “Operation Harvest” campaign of 1956-62.
    Clearly a tragedy for the families of 20 or so people killed but not exactly something that had any real effect.
    No coincidence that O’Bradaigh, O’Connell, Cronin….and obviously Sean Sabhat/South and O’Hanlon were all from the Republic.
    No coincidence surely that O’Bradaigh and O’Connell were RSF types.

    Basically the further away from the North……the more Republican people get. Whether its Dublin or Kilburn in London or Boston Massachusetts or the safety of a bedroom computer of a 16 year old anywhere in the World.

    The dissidents are of course dangerous….as last weeks murder in Derry shows.
    They can and will murder again.
    But they delude themselves that they have influence.
    They dont.

  • Alias

    “There seems to be cross-fertilisation; it may be more to do with acquaintances or family membership than ideology. But nonetheless it is a more worrying trend because clearly their capability is growing.”

    Hmmmm…. we’ve all heard of big catholic families but it’s pushing it to the max to assert that some families are so big that they now threaten the security of the British state.

    At any rate, it isn’t state-sponsored paramilitary groups that are ‘uniting’ but various political groups (e.g. Republican Network for Unity) that are seeking common purpose.

    Why is the minister opposed to free political speech by legitimate political groups, and signalling that such speech is a threat to British national security interests?

    As we have seen with political groups such as éirígí, the state is targeting these groups because they remain opposed to British rule. So it is not simply the violent means to a political end that that been renounced by state-approved ‘republican’ groups but the end itself.

    Republicans who do not accept the legitimacy of British sovereignty and who do not renounce their right to national self-determination are the wrong sort of republicans now that the state has redefined republicanism as support for British sovereignty and a rejection of Irish national rights.

  • The sooner there is joint PSNI/Gardaí patrolling and stationing the better. That can be sold to both sides, Unionist and Nationalist as in their best interests in defeating the dissidents.

  • joeCanuck


    There aren’t joint patrols but do you think that there aren’t coordinated patrols and deep information sharing? If so, you’re wrong.

  • Alias

    What is evident here is the important role that state-sponsored terrorist groups in allowing the state to promote the censorship of claims that challenge its sovereignty over the state.

    The state is able to point at its terrorist groups and then say, “Do not argue by peaceful political that you have a right to national self-determination and that this is denied to you by living as a non-sovereign nation within a British state because if you do argue this by peaceful means then others will assert those national rights by non-peaceful means.”

    The state is then able to consolidate its sovereignty since it can thereby neutralise all political opposition to it, confining the debate only to groups that fully endorse the legitimacy of its sovereignty.

  • Alias

    Typo: “What is evident here is the important role that state-sponsored terrorist groups [i]perform[/i] in allowing the state to promote the censorship of [i]political[/i] claims that challenge its sovereignty over the state.”

  • joeCanuck,

    there probably are actually jointly planned operations but this need to be developed further and made public as well as joint patrolling and stationing so that when a dissident decides to launch an ‘operation’ it is clear that it is being launched against both police forces and that both police forces will plan their capture.

  • joeCanuck


    Agree. I would also allow hot pursuit with public safety being the number 1 priority. Rules of engagement would allow gunfire to be returned. The authority of the pursuing force would be to hold the pursued in custody until the local authorities arrive and take control. I would loosen requirements for extradition North and South too.

  • joeCanuck,


  • Paddy

    Fitzjames: What areas of the Deep South are more republican than Cooley/South Armagh/Carickmacross? There are none. The same families – the Undertaker, the Surgeon etc – featured in the glory days of Camlough hero Sean Aiken, who gave the fateful Dump Arms order in 1923.

    When I heard Newry Courthouse was no longer with us, I thought: South Armagh. You obviously though : Sean South and Southill.

    All the other pro death squad screw balls are joining in. Paisley/UDR/UFF obviously live.

    And, as regards Fermangh, CIRA have been active there since their early days.

    As regards “dissident” co operation, this was much stronger on the lead up to Omagh when the INLA played a more pivotal role. Ahern seems wrong there. There have been greater “successes” but they seem petty by any yardstick and they cannot grow without some form of popular support. And even the sorry state of Celtic will not infuse it with anything.

    Its only hope is Paisley’s replacements: the new recruiting sergeants, people who spew out anti Catholic/Nationalist vitriol like guess who.

    The only comparison to Operation Harvest is its apparent futility. But some brave souls living in their own world will continue to get marginalised and starry eyed younger ones to go out and gut a building here or there.

    Even a few Red Eyes to bring down choppers would not make much cop at this stage as this would cause so much of a reaction against them. Adams et al really check mated them.

    I cannot see how they could escalate and fund their campaign to a meaningful level. It takes a lot of smuggled diesel to buy serious gear, and a lot of well experienced smugglers to bring it into God’s Own Country (South Armagh))

  • ding dong

    Interesting how operation Harvest gets revisited as Barry Flynn’s book gets published – not a bad read either.

    The issue remains that the Southern population have no interest in the politics of the North until someone dies at the end of a Security force gun – inevitably in controversial circumstances. then the hundreds will turn out for the martyr.

    And the current campaign has every chance that sooner or later such a death will occur – but like in 56-62 there will be no real support just sentiment.

    Like the poor violent republicanism will alsways be with us – because its a way of life for some and that ain’t going to change

  • old school

    After Omagh we we´re told these guys we´re destroyed.
    Since then over 200 have been sent to jail, laws have been made more draconian than even under the Provo campaign, and millions has been spent on surveillance of members etc.
    And yet they are stronger today than 10 years ago.
    Simple fact is the “Peace Process” was built on lies, nods and winks to grassroots, and false promises. More and more are realising this.
    The longer “dissidents ” are around and maintain tenacity, the stronger they will become.

  • Paddy


    Old School, I don’t really agree. Doherty’s funeral got a big turn out and a tricolour. A bit more glamorous than Denis D.

    RIRA are not quite cornered rats but they are not exactly the army of the people. A dangerous, explosive group of lost souls, as the priest more or less put it.

  • old school,

    you are quite right they havent disappeared you know, but it is a case of ever decreasing circles and the greater the cooperation between the 2 police forces the more difficult it will be for them to operate risking as it would the death or injury of Gardaí. That would not be popular with their ‘base’.

    Their only real chance of traction is some sort of humiliation for SF which forces them out of government – perhaps a hung parliament and some crazy anti-Irish Tory policy or if some nutters, perhaps themselves and assisted by the OO, can set off the parading issue again.

  • old school

    Moderate Unionist, the first RIRA martyr was shot dead by armed Gardai. More have been jaied in the South than in the North, due mostly to the most draconian legislation in Western Europe.
    Gardai sit on some members homes 24 hours a day, and have jailed dozens based only on the “assumption or belief” os a Superintendent.
    I dont see how much more draconian they can get, without falling foul of basic, human rights legislation or European decrees.
    All of the above just embitters people anyway, and makes people more zealous and determined, to fight the State.

  • Munsterview

    It is indeed no great surprise to find the current ineffectual Southern Minister For Justice ‘ talking up’ the threat of Armed Republican Groups to the State. This man considers himself to be the most suitable candidate for next Taoiseach and what better way to enhance his credentials than present a massive threat to the State that he as Minister is saving the State and the general public from?

    The Minister is of course ably assisted in this by ‘ The Boys And Gals In Blue’. There is a collusion of interests here, more threat = more resources = more overtime! These are the very same force, some of whom in Donegall while serving members of the force who had quite a little cottage industry going actually manufacturing explosives which they then planted in the North for their Northern counterparts to find!

    Result: Garda intelligence was able to report very high levels of ‘Dissident Activity’ around the Donegall border area and the Northern Police were able to claim similar activity and chalk up their detection rates. Actual Commendations given out, much overtime on both sides of the Border at enormous cost to the Tax Payer and tensions damaging to the peace process artificially, if not deliberately, created.

    There are enough armed criminals within the Southern State alone to form a well equipped Infantry Battalion, and not just with any old guns either, but based on the all too few captured by the Gardai, the best of modern, new ordinance. No serious criminal can afford to be seen now days with less than fully automatic heavy duty pistols and sub- machine guns!

    Recently in Limerick a man described by the Gardai as hard working and innocent of criminal activity was gunned down on early morning in the course of his work. The place of his killing was not chosen at random, apparently that same garage is used frequently by the gardai for a coffee and tea break and according to a local private security source it is not unusual to see two or more marked cars there. It was apparently chosen as a deliberate thumbing the nose at the force.

    Post armed struggle we have learned of the extent infriltation and control of the mainstream Republican movement by MI 5 and other organizations. Gerry Adams personal ‘go for’ and right hand man Donellison for example in the political side and the head of I.R.A. security in the armed side!

    So called dissident forces do present a security threat in the South but far, far less of a one to the citizens of this State than the present Government’s economic policies are doing to every individual and family in the country and the armed criminal gangs and rampant drug culture on the streets outside.

    However all of this will now be ignored for the next couple of days for the activities of a few dozen activists in the North who, going on past performance and resent history, are probably under direct or indirect British State control! Who cares at what cost to the Peace Process, Fianna Fail will have bought a few more days where the focus is off economic matters and appalling governance, while in the corridors of power, Ministerial colleagues are patting Ahern on the back and going ” Nice one Dermot, nice one”

    Meanwhile the mother of a Child Sexual Abuse Victim is now waiting seven weeks for a reply to a personal letter send to Ahern’s Constituency office …… and she will continue to wait for this concerns real issues and not spin!

  • old school,

    I agree, it is not more draconian legisaltion that will limit the dissident operations but more cooperation, organised crime gangs (motivated by money) are a differnet matter


    hasn’t the boy Dermot introduced legislation (or is about to) that allows the Gardaí to lock up organised crime members based on their word. This may well have the desired effect and he should be applauded.

    That is not ot say that FF should not be booted out of office for the economic mess the country is in.

  • Alias

    Good post, Munsterview. But that infiltration extended to seeking to control the security services of a foreign state at its very highest levels, e.g. the Patrick Crinnion, private secrtary to the then head of Special Branch and head of C3 (state intelligence section), Chief Superintendent John P. Fleming, was an agent of MI6 (subsequently arrested in Dublin along with his handler Douglas Smythe alias John Wyman but allowed to leave the state without prosectution) and the head of the Gardai, Commisioner Edmund Garvey, sacked by the state for ‘undisclosed’ reasons. While that was MI6’s handiwork, even MI5 freely admits on its website that it is “a myth” to think that it is an internal state agency that does not opperate in foreign territory in order to promote and protect British national security and economic interests. You’d want to be rather naive not to think that its base in NI isn’t used to handle its agents within the Irish state.

    The muppet Ahern can’t even do a half-decent job of talking up the threat since he would have us beleive on one hand that the ‘dissident’ threat is so huge that British national security is endangered and on the other hand that the threat is so small that it is confined to family members.

  • Munsterview

    M.U. Time and time again over recent decades very many hours, rhetoric and late sittings of both Dail and Senate have been expended in passing legalization and getting it on the Statute Books……….. where it still languishes unused until the next big crime outrage where the Minister again promises New,Tougher Legislation and the cycles begin all over again.

    Once in 1972 when arrested in the South under the Offenses Against The State Act following the organizing of a picket on a Government Minister, I asked that my rights be read to me. The Special Branch Detective Inspector began with the usual caution and then as his colleagues started to laugh he realized the situation.

    I then got reality spelled out to me…..” You are arrested under the F***ing Offenses Against The State Act, you have no F***ing rights what so ever!”

    This was indeed the true situation back then in 1972, thirty-eight years and nearly a full four decades ago. Since then Bill after Bill has been enacted, mainly for the optics. Back then and since there has been more than enough power to deal with the ever escalating criminal situation, what is lacking is will and competence!

    For years Republican activities were held responsible for the lack of resources available to the Gardai in coming to grips with criminal activity as so many of the force were involved in security duty. Well ! we had a peace process, all the garda forces tied up with security were freed for ordinary policing duties yet criminal activity is still a runaway train!

    Take the situation of The Rip-Off Ponzy scheme financier in New York, just ninety days was all it took to get this crook investigated, tried, sentenced and jailed. Here over two years after it became known that over 100 million pounds was shuffled around between two banks to hide a black hole deficit from Central Bank Inspectors, the perpetrators retired with colossal bonuses and pensions and have still to be interviewed. However as this involves ‘The Golden Circle’ the friends and former generous financial backers of Fianna Fail, it is obvious why this is not happening here!

    We have ‘hole in the wall’ robberies down here every few weeks leading to significant destruction of property in addition to the actual robbery. Few of the gangs have been caught. It is also only a matter of time until there will be a politically motivated bank robbery and just wait to see the outcry that will provoke although the amount involved will be insignificant compared to that already robbed!

    The true situation of the Department of Justice stranglehold on the incumbent Minister was well illustrated by Michael McDowell, the political boot boy and roaring Lion of recent Irish politics .

    However when faced with his Senior Department Officials, he was just a neutered pussy cat that could not even get access to letters of complaint send to his department by Billy Flynn, private investigator and he has to slink out to the Billy’s private house, under the cover of darkness, for a four hour read of files and note taking to find out what the true situation in the Donegall Garda Corruption Cases was !

    Some way to run a Department, some way to run a Bloody country. Not for nothing did a Real Political Journalist, ( when we had such things in this country ) the Late John Healy refer to these people as ‘ The Permanent Government !’

    Will and competence are what is needed to deal with criminal activity , not more laws and even more diminishing of Human Rights!

  • KieranJ

    Mr. Ahern is beginning to sound like a British subject.

  • Munsterview,

    ” what is lacking is will and competence”. I wouldnt deny that. But that does not mean that the law should not adapt to the circumstances just as organised crime adapts to avoid it.

    The proposed change to the law to enable the Gardaí to secure convictions of people who are terrorising their neighbourhoods should be welcomed not instead of “will” and “competence” but in addition to it.

  • Scaramoosh

    “because clearly their capability is growing.”

    Yes; their capability to kill themselves.

    Two of the three leading figures of the organisation that were caught red handed at Stamullen training youngsters in the useage of rocket launchers amongst other assorted weapons are dead in mysterious circumstances (Conlan and McGreevy);


    Now we have Kieran Doherty dead.

    Does anybody know who their head of internal security is ….?

  • old school

    You forgot Vol. Joe O connor.
    Killed in not so mysterious circumstances. Shot ten times in the head by a relative of Adams.
    Not one person has even been questioned despite practically everyone in the street seeing and naming the killers.

  • IRIA

    Golfball Conlon’s demise sure is mysterious, but McGreevey’s seems like a sad case of someone taking their own life. He was facing charges in the Republic and Lithuania. I think he knew what he was facing.

  • joeCanuck

    Old School,
    Got a link for that?

  • old school

    Joe the killers´ names were bandied all over the World via Internet, and was even painted on some murals.They were seen by family members of the deceased, and neighbours.
    Mo Mowlam called the killing “housekeeping” and no-one was arrested, never mind charged.
    Heres one link to the Adams reference.
    PSF even issued a press release blaming the CIRA for killing the RIRA member in a grubby attempt to provoke a feud.

  • joeCanuck

    Thanks, old school.
    I have no memory of that but since it was pre-slugger, I was not as clued in as to what was going on back home.

  • Munsterview


    yes indeed the law should be changed where ever there is a proven deficit in dealing with criminal activity, with the qualification of course that these new laws are balanced with civil rights and the public good.

    As to will and attitude: contrast how ‘Shell To Sea’ protesters were dealt with where a Garda Hq will to act was present and the open heroin and cocaine sales along the liffey boardwalk in Dublin where the will to act is absent.

    The peace process freed out an estimated 30% of Garda manpower and resources for use against criminal activity, why did this not bring a corresponding decrease in criminal and drug related activities. Facts that cocaine, heroin and other hard drug sales have mushroomed since and the Dublin Gangland death toll have also escalated to give results far worse than the North as a whole for last year.

    For some years the Donegal Garda Corruption was such that the ordinary decent members of the force that did not go along with it were victimized. When exposed a few of the more prominent corrupt members were charged but most were allowed quietly retire with their pensions intact.

    I have also been informed, but I cannot verify this for certain, that even those convicted were allowed retain their pensions intact. If this is fact can you blame the average member of the force to develop a ‘lets just get through the shift’ mentality and reactive rather than duty engaged policing ?

    At minimum we need the same type of Northern type policing boards, the creation of which were fully supported and demanded by the Southern Governments of the day. However hypocrisy reigns yet again; what was sauce for the Northern Goose was definitely not sauce for the Southern gander!

  • curryM

    RIRA are dealing drugs and then executing their own drugs dealers! It stinks of hypocrisy!


  • curryM


  • Paddy

    Some months ago, a post on here drew attention to the awful English used n RIRA’s new year statement. What is their back to the future strategy? How do they see, in practical terms, them expanding and getting enough gear to do real samage and effect real change?

    This Doherty killing seems to serve no purpose except to warn gullible youngesters of the high risks they run from dealing with RIRA. Ditto all the guys who have been jailed.

    The Pervies didn’t care who they chewed up to get their jobs. Nor do the people at the top of RSF.

    Unless there is a big event, i canot see them gaining traction.

  • old school

    Curry, I expected to see something new in your video to link the RIRA with the drugs trade.
    All we got was Republicans faces superimposed in a photoshopped cannabis factory.
    There´s also “an admission of guilt” from Mickey Mc Kevitt stating, “Yes I do deal drugs.” despite him being in a high security prison almost ten years.
    I will be contacting his family and advising them to view the video and contact a solicitor.
    Republicans are anti drugs and your juvenile video has failed abysmally.
    Your video has striking similarites to the PSF whispering campaign against Kieran Doherty just before he was shot,and before they clammered to carry his coffin.
    You Sir, are a Brit propagandist.

  • Paddy

    Old School: Is there a book of evidence we can see against Mr Doherty. I like these Miss Marple things, following the evidence and finding out whodunnit. Had Doherty numbered bank accounts, homes in the Donegal Pervieland? What had he, besides RIRA/MI5 on his back?
    The video is amateurish and does not claim to be anything else. The Provos produced plenty of amateurish clap trap in their day.

    Surely the main thing here is a bunch of guys hacked another guy with no due process.

    I am sure Bobby Sands’ sister has other things to worry about.

  • old school

    I´m not involved with the RIRA, Paddy.
    They have claimed that they investigated the drugs seizure and interviewed all involved.
    Kieran apparently denied any links with this at first but at a later interview, he was faced with statements from others in the gang who claimed that Kieran had actually sourced the plants. At this he admitted his involvement.
    You´ll notice no other member of the gang were shot as they did not sign up to IRA orders.
    Kieran did, and broke them. They could´ve aped the Provos and shot the criminals and sneak Kieran out of the country till the dust settled, but they didn´t. Had they did this, PSF the Brits and the media would be saying the RIRA were involved in the drugs trade.
    His family have claimed Kieran was a gentleman and a lovely fella. I agree that he was.
    The whole thing is a tragedy for all involved, and hopefully doesn´t happen again.

  • old school

    Kieran also denied being an agent. The RIRA have not found him guilty of this, but they believe someone in the gang was linked to British or Free state intel and took the decision to use that particular house, given it´s connotations and links.